Amaryllis bulbs are a popular choice for holiday decor because they bloom in spectacular fashion right around the Christmas season. Their huge, vibrant flowers on tall stalks make quite the festive statement. However, timing is everything when it comes to ensuring your amaryllis bulbs will hit their peak bloom just in time for Christmas festivities. Follow this guide on when to properly plant bulbs for gorgeous holiday blooms.
Buy Large, Healthy Amaryllis Bulbs
Start by selecting large, firm bulbs from garden centers and nurseries in the fall. Look for bulbs that are about 2-3 inches in diameter without any mushy spots, mold or damage. The bulb size correlates with number of blooms – bigger bulbs produce more flowers. Pick variety colors like bold red, pure white, pink and striped.
Plan Ahead Based on Bloom Time
Amaryllis bulbs take 6-8 weeks to bloom once planted. Count backwards from your target bloom date to determine the optimal planting window.
To have blooms by December 15th, plant bulbs in late October to early November.
For blooms by December 25th, aim to plant bulbs in early to mid November.
If wanting blooms for New Year’s, plant bulbs in late November.
Bloom time can vary by a week or two based on conditions. Plant a couple of weeks earlier than the timeline above if aiming for very early blooms.
Provide Proper Potting Mix
Plant bulbs in pots with drainage holes, in a potting mix designed for bulbs and African violets. Avoid regular potting soil which may be too dense. The mix should be loose and fast draining to prevent bulb rot. You can also add pebbles or stones to the bottom of pots for extra drainage.
Plant Bulbs at Proper Depth
Plant bulbs with 1/3 of the bulb sticking out above the soil line. Plant base or flat end down. If planted too deep, blooms may not emerge properly. Place one bulb in a 4-6 inch pot, or a few together in larger planters.
Provide Warmth & Sunlight After Planting
Place freshly planted pots of bulbs in a warm, bright location with indirect sunlight. This encourages root growth. Near a sunny window is ideal. Avoid direct sun which can burn bulbs. Grow lights also work well to provide warmth and light through winter.
Water Sparingly Until Growth Emerges
After planting bulbs, water just once initially. Avoid overwatering, which can rot bulbs before they sprout. Wait to water again only once you see green growth appear, in about 2-4 weeks after planting. Then water when the top few inches of soil feel dry.
Stake Once Flower Stalks Emerge
When the bulb’s flower stalk begins to rise, add a planted support stake or rod next to it. This prevents the top-heavy stalk from flopping over once huge blooms emerge. Tie stalk loosely to stake using soft ties or fabric strips once it gets taller.
Display in Cool Spot Once Blooming
When blooms open, move the amaryllis pot to a cool spot out of direct sun to help flowers last. Warm windowsills can shorten bloom time. Provide bright, indirect light and average room temperatures around 65-70°F for longest enjoyment of flowers.
Cut Off Old Blooms & Fertilize
Once blooms fade, cut off the entire faded flower stalk near the base. Provide the bulb fertilizer every 2-3 weeks to replenish nutrients. Let the leaves photosynthesize to transfer energy back to the bulb until they yellow.
Let Bulb Enter Dormancy
After blooming, let the bulb go dormant by gradually withholding water. Store the dormant bulb in a cool, dry place for 6-8 weeks. Pot up again in late summer, provide bright light and begin watering to wake the bulb and coax fall re-bloom.
With the right timing, planting depth, light and care, you can have huge, vibrant amaryllis blooms ready to brighten up any holiday decor. Time bulbs for festive color at just the right moment.